‘I should have known’
A SOMERSET councillor reprimanded for inappropriate conduct towards a staff member says she accepts she did the wrong thing.
Cheryl Gaedtke, who has been a councillor since 2016 but started her career working in the former Kilcoy Shire Council in 1977, said she was only trying to do the right thing by a local business when she broke protocol by carbon-copying a staff member into an email on October 4, 2017.
The 2017-18 Somerset Regional Council Annual report shows there were two orders made for Cr Gaedtke under section 181 of the Local Government Act 2009.
It was considered the councillor had engaged in inappropriate conduct when she emailed a staff member seeking to promote the interests of a local business.
The staff member reported the email to council CEO Bob Bain and the matter was referred to the CEO of the Department of Local Government.
Two orders were made; one reprimanding Cr Gaedtke for the inappropriate conduct, and another order that any repeat of the conduct, which amounted to a failure to comply with the council’s Acceptable Request Guidelines, be referred to a regional conduct review panel as misconduct.
The guidelines stipulate councillors cannot approach lower-ranking staff to request information outside their area of responsibility.
Cr Gaedtke said she accepted she broke protocol but her intention was only to help a local business.
“Some contractors from our region were trying to make themselves known to council,” she said.
“This business wanted to be recognised and I was trying to help them. The policy is in black and white and I did the wrong thing. I should have known.
“I have been an employee of council for so long – I started as a junior clerk typist in Kilcoy as a 15 or 16-year-old in 1977 – but this is the way local government is changing.
“You cannot be seen to be doing the wrong thing.”
OWNING UP: Somerset Regional Councillor Cheryl Gaedtke.